Members of the 2015-16 Fighting Okra Records: (front, left to right) Gregory Braggs, Keith Johnson, Tyler Young, Kelsey Collins, Lindsey Anna Pardue, Mic Hargrove, Chace Holland and Jessica Wishard. Back row: (l to r) Reed Smith, Brennan Barham, Austin Rausa, Will Marshall, Dalton Shipley, Justin Boatman, Jacob Lifsey, Starlin Browning and Lane Fitzgerald. Missing from the picture is Chelsea Young.

Fighting Okra Records back for another round

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Community, Delta Music Institute, Students | No Comments

Fighting Okra Records, a student-run record label at Delta State University, will continue its operations during the 2015-16 academic year with a new staff of entertainment industry studies students.

The label is housed in the DMI Entertainment Industry Program and is the combined outcome of students enrolled in the Record Label Practicum course at the DMI. Building on the success of last year’s Fighting Okra release with artist Justin Boatman, this year’s staff is looking forward to an exciting new year.

Students staffing the label are assigned responsibilities within departments, using a real world record company model. These departments include the areas of business and finance, sales and marketing, artist and repertoire, and art and production.

“One of the main challenges for students in this type of practicum course is dealing with all the unexpected changes that happen in a project like this over the course of a year,” said director Tricia Walker. “Learning to manage those changes will be beneficial in the real world.”

This year, FOR is launching a new campaign in hopes of building a larger group of supporters. The label is setting up a competition that will showcase the musical ability of students around campus. Unlike previous years, they will be allowing students from the entire campus to audition to be the next spotlight artist for the 2015-16 school year.

Students who are interested will be required to submit a video link of two of their performances. Upon submission, selected students will move on to the second round via notification by the label. In the second round, students will be required to perform in front of the members of the label, after which the label will hand select the final contenders. The third and final round will give the label a chance to interview each contestant before making the final selection.

The mission of FOR is to provide a practical, real world music industry experience to the students and to provide a variety of independent artists with professional quality music industry services in an effort to expose their name in recordings to the broadest possible audience.

The Delta Music Institute is an independent center of study under the College of Arts & Sciences at Delta State University. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For more information, contact the DMI at 662-846-4579 or


Young Valley set to perform next Levitt AMP Series concert

By | Community, General | No Comments

Young Valley will perform a free concert in downtown Cleveland on Thursday, Oct. 1, at 7:30 p.m. as part of Levitt AMP Cleveland Music Series.

Young Valley will bring alternative country to downtown Cleveland. Their style has been described as “no dress up, good southern, honest music. Perfect for long roads or barbecues.”

The Young Valley concert will take place on the downtown greenspace near College Avenue. Mississippi Grounds featuring Yo Eddie’s BBQ will sell food and Delta Dairy will sell frozen treats. Concert goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets, ice chests and bug repellent. Glass bottles are not allowed. Live music will begin at 6:30 p.m.

The Levitt AMP Cleveland Music Series is supported in part by Levitt Pavilions, the national nonprofit behind the largest free outdoor concert series in America. Dedicated to strengthening the social fabric of our communities, Levitt partners with cities to transform neglected public spaces into thriving destinations through the power of free, live music.

In 2015, free Levitt concerts will take place in 16 cities across 14 states, all featuring a rich array of music genres and high caliber talent. In addition to Levitt AMP, Levitt forms the only national network of nonprofit outdoor music venues, each presenting 50+ free concerts each year. Within this region is the Levitt Shell ( in Memphis, Tennessee, with concerts taking place this May, June, July, September and October. Learn more about the Levitt locations and impact at:

The Levitt AMP Cleveland Music Series is sponsored by Delta State University and their partners: the Delta Music Institute, Delta State University Student Government Association, the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, Team Cleveland, The Grammy Museum Mississippi, Peavey, Domino’s Pizza, and the Delta Arts Alliance.

For more information about the Cleveland Amp Levitt Concerts Series, visit our website at: or call the Cleveland Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce at (662)843-2712.


GRAMMY Museum Mississippi to open March 5-6

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

CLEVELAND, MISS. — The new grand opening date for the Grammy Museum Mississippi in Cleveland will be March 5-6.

The Clarion-Ledger reports ( the opening had originally been planned for this fall, but the intricacy of its complex exhibits delayed the completion date.

The Grammy Museum Mississippi will be the first Grammy Museum built outside of Los Angeles; its opening will follow the 58th annual Grammy Awards, held Feb. 15.

The museum is built and will be operated by the nonprofit Cleveland Music Foundation in association with the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live and The Recording Academy.

The 27,000-square-foot Grammy Museum Mississippi is located on the Delta State University Campus, which is also home to the Delta Music Institute, the state’s only accredited music industry studies program.

Read more here:

Delta State will rename New Men's Residence Hall to Blansett Hall with a public naming dedication Oct. 17 to honor Dr. Wayne Blansett, former vice president of Student Affairs.

Blansett to be honored with building dedication

By | Alumni, Faculty/Staff, President, Students | No Comments

Delta State University and supporters from the community will gather Oct. 17 at 3:30 p.m. to honor one of the university’s most beloved leaders, Dr. Wayne Blansett, recently retired vice president of Student Affairs.

To recognize Blansett’s 40 years of dedication to the institution, Delta State will hold a naming dedication to rename New Men’s Residence Hall to Blansett Hall. The ceremony will also include a reception in the lobby following the main event.

Over the past four decades, Blansett has remained a fixture as one of the most respected leaders at Delta State. Serving the green and white for nearly half of the institution’s existence, Blansett retired at the end of the academic calendar in June of 2015.

Most recently serving as vice president of Student Affairs — 1993 to 2015 — Blansett has been a role model and mentor for countless students in Delta State’s storied history. As he put it, his job was to improve the total development of students at the university.

“I started working at Delta State when I was 23-years-old,” said Blansett in a previous press release. “I’ve had a long and rewarding career, and I will certainly miss the interactions with students, staff and the entire Delta State family.”

The true leader is also a proud alumnus of Delta State, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1973, Master of Education in Counseling in 1974 and a Doctorate of Education in Professional Studies in 1988.

Shortly after his graduate studies, Blansett began working for his alma mater as the assistant dean of students from 1975-1980. He then progressed as the director of Student Activities (1980-1984), associate dean of Student Affairs (1984-1990) and dean of Student Affairs (1990-1993).

Delta State University President William N. LaForge, who has been Blansett’s longtime friend and colleague, said the building dedication is an appropriate way to pay tribute to Blansett’s outstanding service to the university.

“No one bleeds ‘Green and White’ more than Wayne Blansett,” said LaForge. “It is very difficult to say a professional farewell to someone who has given his entire career to this university and who has had such an enormous and positive impact on thousands of students during his 40 years of service in the student affairs arena.”

Continue to follow Delta State’s daily news feed at for more information on Blansett’s building dedication.


Commissioner of Higher Education presents budget request on behalf of university system

By | General | No Comments

JACKSON — Focusing on the resources needed to achieve the state’s goal for higher education, Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Glenn F. Boyce presented the universities’ budget request for Fiscal Year 2017 to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee at a hearing this morning in Jackson.

As outlined in the Statewide Strategic Plan, the state’s goal for higher education is “to make available an accessible, quality public higher education at an affordable cost that prepares Mississippians to become productive, financially self-sufficient members of society while meeting the human resource needs of Mississippi and its employers, including the creation of new jobs through the commercialization of university-based research.”

“This is a good goal for higher education in Mississippi,” said Dr. Boyce. “We support this goal and are working to attain it through increasing educational attainment, supporting economic development and solving Mississippi’s most pressing problems. However, we must have the resources necessary to do the work required to achieve this goal.”

Mississippi Public Universities enroll almost 94,000 students each year and awarded more than 16,800 degrees in the most recent year. This year, fall enrollment reached its highest point in history, with 81,132 students. Universities lead more than 2,500 research projects.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is the state’s leader in addressing Mississippi’s healthcare issues. With 2,900 students in 28 degree programs, UMMC has 28,000 inpatient admissions and more than 250,00 outpatient and emergency department visits annually. UMMC’s Telehealth program is improving rural access to healthcare by offering more than 30 medical specialties at more than 100 clinical sites.

The universities’ request included an increase of $50.1 million for faculty and staff salaries and an additional $14.2 million for student financial aid over the appropriation for Fiscal Year 2016. It also includes a request of $17 million to address facility repair and renovation needs.

“To increase educational attainment, we must attract and retain faculty and staff, maintain our infrastructure and increase accessibility,” said Dr. Boyce. “Our request is a direct reflection of this.”

Average salaries in Mississippi are 83 percent of the average salaries in other Southern Regional Education Board states.

“We can’t overstate the importance of faculty and staff on student success and research,” said Dr. Boyce. “Our faculty members serve as an inspiration to students and help them persist and graduate, our staff members provide essential services that protect student safety, help students persist, and help students find jobs after graduation. Our researchers conduct important research that helps solve Mississippi’s most pressing problems.”

The request includes $17 million to address facility needs. Universities must maintain the safe, secure and state-of-the-art facilities that students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community expect. In addition to eight main campuses, the university system includes the medical center and 12 satellite centers.

This includes more than 1,600 buildings totaling more than 32 million square feet. More than 70 percent of IHL Buildings are more than 25 years old from construction date. More than 52 percent are more than 25 years from the last major renovation.

“The facilities infrastructure goes beyond the brick and mortar one expects,” said Dr. Boyce. “Our faculty, staff and students must have the technology infrastructure necessary to have the teaching and learning opportunities they expect in the 21st century.”

The request also includes a $14.2 million increase for student financial aid funding. There are currently 29,909 students receiving financial aid at public and private universities and community colleges.

“Having wonderful faculty and great buildings and programs only helps those students who can get through the door,” said Dr. Boyce. “We are very concerned about the issue of access and are considering how this issue will look 10 to 20 years down the road. Student financial aid plays a tremendous role in enabling students to stay in school and graduate.”

Dr. Boyce noted that the Board of Trustees has lead several initiatives to keep costs down, including:
· A system-wide energy savings programs that has saved $70 million.
· A system approach to property insurance has saved $45 million.
· Textbook policies to help keep those costs down as much as possible.
· Annual reviews of all academic programs.

The Board is also exploring the possibility of implementing other cost-savings measures, including:
· Expanding the MissiON Network, the state’s high-bandwidth internet backbone for research universities, to include the regional universities.
· Establishing a system-wide Employee Assistance Program, which will allow universities to pool resources and save money.

“I know we share the goal of ensuring that every student who has the drive and desire to earn a college degree has that opportunity,” said Dr. Boyce. “It is what is right for Mississippi’s students of today and tomorrow and it is a key building block in the building the Mississippi of the future that we all want.”